Matoi ()

Matoi were used by fire brigades in the Edo Period, and it expressed their own "kumi" (brigade). Design of Matoi is elaborated by each brigade in various ways. In general, Matoi has a head which shows its brigade on the top and tassel decoration which was referred to as "baren." Bottom part of Matoi is a wood stick to hold in the hands.

At Edo in the Edo Period, daimyo (Japanese feudal lord) and hatamoto (direct retainers of the bakufu, which is a form of Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) battled the fires occurred at samurai residence, while merchants and craftsmen battled the fires occurred at the regions where they lived. In 1658, after the Great Fire of Meireki in which most part of Edo was burned down, Edonakajobinoban (jobikeshi [fire department under the direct control of the Edo bakufu]) was established. At the time of fire, hatamoto led firefighters referred to as "Gaen" who were stationed in firehouse and went into action, and it is said that umajirushi (commander's battle standard) used at that time was the origin of Matoi.

During fire fighting, firefighters referred to as "Matoimochi" climbed onto the roof on the lee side with holding Matoi, and Matoi was used for signs of firefighting such as water-discharge and destruction of buildings.

[Original Japanese]